You might be like many other pregnant women. Somewhere in the course of your pregnancy, you no longer feel like getting out of bed. Nothing seems to console you and you can’t stop crying. You spend your days going from your bed to your couch. The television blares constantly and barely dampens the sadness you feel. You have had a few suicidal thoughts, but you feel like you would never act on them. You’ve been thinking maybe you should see someone who does counseling for moms.
“What is wrong with me?” you might be asking yourself. This is not your first pregnancy, and you did not feel like this the first time around. The child in your womb enters into your family wanted and loved. You and your partner are not experiencing any financial strain. You just can’t seem to shake this heavy sadness. You want to find joy in this new phase of your motherhood journey, but you can’t. Could this be some sort of pregnancy depression?
Or you might be thinking you don’t even want this baby. You frantically go back and forth in your mind wondering if you should abort. You might even regret that you didn’t. You could be terrified of the overwhelm and the loss of freedom after the baby is born.
Will you still feel as connected to the children you already have? It might feel like you are losing them. What about the life and freedom you finally recouped after having your last child? You might be feeling resentful toward the unborn child for taking that away.
Your significant other says they will support any decision you make about keeping the baby, but their silence makes you feel like they are not behind you.
You know that women get depressed after giving birth, but you have never heard of women falling into a deep depression before their child comes into the world.
As a mom of four, I have a special place in my heart for moms. I am so grateful that I get to engage in therapy with moms. I know that you want the best for yourself and for your child. In our practice in both Evanston and Chicago, I see moms who have this same anxiety and depression during their pregnancy.
What is pregnancy depression?
Let’s talk about what is formally known as antepartum depression, perinatal depression, maternal depression, or prenatal depression. We can more simply refer to it as pregnancy depression. Almost a fourth of all women (14%-23%) who become pregnant will experience pregnancy depression.
The American Pregnancy Association describes it like this: a mood disorder just like clinical depression. Mood disorders are biological illnesses that involve changes in brain chemistry.”
Less clinically, it might feel like this: your enjoyment in life has dipped severely, and you can’t seem to restore it. You may feel overwhelmed by a sadness that you just “can’t shake.”
How would I know if I have pregnancy depression?
Knowing if you have pregnancy depression can be difficult to determine. Many of the symptoms look like typical pregnancy symptoms. Take a look at this list:
lower energy levels
changes in appetite
changes in sleep
changes in libido
Yet, look at this more comprehensive list for more concerning pregnancy depression symptoms:
Sleeping too little or too much
Loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or hopelessness
Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
Change in eating habits
We are a counseling practice in Evanston, who would be honored to hear your stories. We would work with you to ease the pain of what you are feeling during your pregnancy. Please reach out to us here. We can meet with you in person or virtually, whichever is most convenient for you.
Won’t it just go away after my baby gets here?
You understand that your hormones are shifting with pregnancy. These changes are affecting your emotions. You may be tempted to think that you do not need to address what you are feeling now. It will all simply go away once your baby is born.
The main reason for seeking treatment for your pregnancy depression is that it increases the chances for positive consequences for both you and your baby.
Untreated depression can possibly affect you and your baby in the following ways:
Low birth weight
In a depressed state, you may be less likely to want to eat healthy meals. Many women experiencing pregnancy depression turn to tobacco and alcohol to cope with their feelings. These substances can harm your developing child. Your baby may experience both cognitive and behavioral challenges as they grow and develop.
We encourage you to seek treatment. There are many treatment options which include:
Talk to your obstetrician. They can most likely prescribe an antidepressant that will work for you and be compatible with your pregnancy. Your obstetrician’s focus is your physical well-being and your mental wellness.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that mental health issues are one of the most common complications during pregnancy and postpartum. Most physicians will screen you at least once during your pregnancy to check for perinatal depression. It may feel odd to you to bring up your depression, but they will be interested to hear about your mental health, too.
You may want to research some of the natural treatments that can help to ease depression. Monitoring your nutrition can assist in decreasing your risk for perinatal depression. Dr. Monique Tello at Harvard Medical School states that “several recent research analyses looking at multiple studies support that there is a link between what one eats and our risk of depression.” These studies suggest that eating more “fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil, low-fat dairy and antioxidants and low intakes of animal food” helps lower your risk for depression.
Dr. Aviva Romm, a midwife, and herbalist suggests that pregnant women take a 15-minute walk each day. This walk has a double benefit. The exercise helps to lift mood. Also, spending time in nature (I talked about this before on the blog here) increases mood. Check out her post to see a list of pregnancy-safe herbal supplements which support brain function.
Contact a mental health professional like us. We are experienced in counseling moms and relationship therapy, and understand what you are going through. With relationship therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, you can transform your thinking patterns. We listen to your worries and help you explore your options.
Together, we figure out what is most important to you. We identify the source of the concerns and identify a self-care plan to cope with your worries. We also will look at how to help you reconnect with yourself, family, and friends.
Pregnancy depression can be very isolating. We give our clients concrete strategies to use in between sessions to relax and feel less depressed. We can talk about strategies to aid you in your struggles and help you walk through your pregnancy with greater joy and hopeful anticipation.
There is hope. We’re here to help. Reach out now to begin to feel like yourself again.
At Evanston Counseling Services, we provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Relationship Therapy, and Hypnotherapy for women in Evanston and Chicago, IL. We help women who feel isolated, anxious, and overwhelmed in their lives to find more happiness, satisfaction, and self-acceptance. We journey with moms to help them manage their anxiety and depression, so they can create loving, strong, healthy attachments with their children.